It seems like you have to be an extrovert to enjoy using Twitter. After all, you’re engaging with the world – expressing your thoughts, connecting and sharing, chatting, and generally being an exuberant online participant – all in 140 characters or less. If you are on Twitter, you are out there. Introverts are generally dismissed as lurkers with nothing much to say.
But this is not the case.
I am deeply introverted, yet I love Twitter.
- When I share on Twitter, I generally have only a few close friends in mind. Most often, though, it is actually just a way for me to archive the things I have enjoyed reading. 80% of the time it’s like I’m talking to the only person in the world who makes sense to me: me.
- I have hundreds of followers, but I only actively engage with a few of them. Introverts do not make friends easily, but Twitter gives me better odds at finding more people to form meaningful friendships with.
- I get to choose who I engage with on Twitter. Introverts dislike noise. If my followers get too loud, I can ignore them, block them or delete them off my lists… (Sometimes I wish I could do the same in real life.)
- When I tweet, I get to plan what I have to say carefully, revise if needed and delete if I suddenly realise I don’t like what I have just said. (I have probably deleted three tweets for every one I have kept.) I love being able to do this.
- Introverts are not antisocial isolationists. We like to be involved and we like people. Just not in heavy doses. On Twitter I can engage when I want to, or I can stay away for weeks without any real consequences.
- I get to listen in without feeling compelled to take part. Whether it is lurking during a chat or following a hashtag, I can feel part of things without anyone expecting anything of me.
- I get to arrange friends into lists. Hence, I can group those who are active and busy into groups, and those who are more reflective into others. This allows me to read and engage with the groups of people I want to, when I want to. It’s also a way of organizing the chaos.
- I get to express myself slowly, deliberately and carefully. Conversations with me often take a few days, because I respond when I feel up to it – there’s no expectant face opposite me demanding an immediate reply.
- On Twitter, I get listened to, without having to shout to make myself heard. People realise that I have something to say, and my tweets speak louder and more clearly than I do.
- I get to be the person I am in my head when I tweet. When I look back at the tweets I’ve sent into the world, I am the kind of person I’ve always wanted to be. It’s a more accurate reflection of who I think I am. This has definitely filtered through into my ‘analogue life’ – I am far more careful with the messages I send out in the real world, and am slowly becoming the person I am on Twitter, in person.
I feel like there are more and more introverts out there. Perhaps it is just that Twitter and other social media have given us a voice and the confidence to peer out from inside our shells. Perhaps it is because other introverts no longer feel the need to play the extrovert. Perhaps it is a sign of things to come: a more reflective, mindful, quieter and more sincere society comprised of people who do far less shouting and far more listening.
But maybe I am going too far.